Tag Archives: Canada

Summer Windbag

May 20 – Mike Babcock leaves the Detroit Red Wings to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the deal calling for 50 million bucks over eight years. Seriously, that’s more than I made at BC Ferries.

Last year Toronto brought in a hot shot advanced stats guy, and now it’s this coach. We’re all screwed. The Leafs will probably be fantastic from now on. Unstoppable every year until the two of them retire. Leafs fans are lucky.

May 21 – Babcock mentions at his big press conference that the Leafs are “Canada’s team”.

May 25 – Today I’ve been thinking about what Babcock said about Canada’s team. I wanted to know who Canada is, the one the team belongs to, so I typed in Canada 411 and had a look.

The problem is, there are quite a few people in Canada named Canada, and I’ve no idea which one the Leafs belong to. There’s Graham Canada in Brampton, Vicki Canada in Vancouver, Gorving Canada in Toronto, Sheldon Canada in Alberta, and a whole bunch in Manitoba, including Mervin and Terry. Others too, including Catherine Canada in Quebec. And then there’s the parents and siblings. All these Canadas, and at least one of them owns the Leafs. Right now we don’t know which one, but I’m hoping it’s Mervin.

Whichever Canada it is, maybe his or her granddad was part of the crew that helped build Maple leaf Gardens and took shares from Conn Smythe instead of money. And if it’s one of the Manitoba Canadas like Mervin, the neighbours probably had no idea. They thought the Canada clan down the road were Jets fans.

May 27 – Guy Lafleur says Brendan Gallagher should captain the Canadiens. Guy says what he thinks, and I say good for him, he doesn’t keep things bottled up inside which could lead to ulcers. Last year he put the hammer down on Max and Tomas Vanek for having lousy post seasons, before that it was Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau’s handling of Alex Kovalev, and in 2007 he said the Habs were a team of 4th liners. I’m sure there were more.

Management must grit their teeth when they find out that the Flower has spoken again.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Guy or any of us think about who should wear the C. It should be put to a dressing room vote. They know each other. They have showers together. But call the vote when no one’s expecting so there’s no time for players to do some personal brown nosing to garner votes, like buying flowers for the other guys’ wives, or babysitting their kids.

And sadly, Carey Price’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot. You know, the goalie/captain thing. But if Price was a forward or d-man, it’s the captaincy for sure.

June 2 – Jeff Petry signs a new six year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens. I like the Habs blueline. You got yer P.K. and Petry and Beaulieu and Emelin and Pateryn and Tinordi. And yes, even Old Man Markov, who will be relying on smarts only from here on in, which is still good.

June 3 – The Stanley Cup Final featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks begins. Canada’s team isn’t involved. Probably next year because they have the coach and the stats guy. Mervin or Graham, or whichever Canada it is that the team belongs to, will be cheering wildly from Manitoba or wherever.

June 4 – Something slightly unusual happens to me today.

 

 

Canadians Crash Through German Lines

The Russian team, wherever they were at the time, watched Canada play their best game of the Olympics on this night, pummelling the Germans 8-2, and I’m sure Alex Ovechkin and company are now understanding the Games have begun for real. 

At this very moment, there will be Russian fingernails being bitten. This extra game, caused by the Canadians losing to the Americans on Sunday, very well could be the turning point for a Canadian team so scrutinized, so criticized, almost since the Games begun.

You saw a different team tonight, Russians. You saw a team finally playing as a team against the German squad. You saw Crosby step up, and you know your Ovechkin isn’t the only king of the hill in big-time hockey. You saw Joe Thornton come through and score, and you don’t know if he’s about to prove naysayers wrong about his ability to come through in big games. But he just might and you don’t like it. You saw Jerome Iginla score a couple, and you know he’s going to give you trouble. You realize your players are going to have to get in front of Shea Weber’s big shot, and you’re not crazy about that. And you understand now that Mike Richards and Scott Niedermayer love the sound of the puck hitting the back of the net, and it’s clear now that Canada has some underachievers making noise who have been quiet in the past.

It doesn’t make you happy.

And last but not least, you saw a big bear of a man, Rick Nash, with moves that befit a smaller player, finally score a huge goal, and you know he’s going to be trouble because you watched him dominate in the 2007 World Championships, you’ve noticed him come close recently, and it worries you to see him playing now like you hoped he wouldn’t. And you saw Roberto Luongo in nets and you know he’s on his home turf and will be brilliant.

You’re in trouble, Russia. Canada has a new sense of confidence, and it seems chemistry has reared its lovely head.

Wednesday night – Canada and Russia. For all of us armchair quarterbacks, get the TV warmed up.

SI Players’ Poll Shows 4% Think The Finns Are The Best

Sports Illustrated emailed me this little NHL poll that is published in their current edition. The question was; Which Country Produces The Best Players?

324 players voted, and players couldn’t vote for their own country. Here’s the results:

Canada 30%

Sweden 28%

Russia 27%

US 7%

Finland 4%

Are you surprised by this? For me, I suppose it looks about right, but I’m really not sure why Finland would get any votes.

Habs Wake Up In The Third. And A Whole Lot Of Other Stories

Talk about doing it the hard way. Sleepwalk through most of the game, fall behind 4-1, then storm back in the third period and shock everyone in the building by coming alive and winning the darn thing 5-4 by scoring four goals in seven plus minutes at the end of the game.

 

I was hoping for Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec to have break-out games, and both guys produced two goals and two assists and basically pulled it out for the good guys.

 

The Habs won………even though they played lousy. This game must really piss off the Islanders.

 

Must have been a good Halloween party the boys were at the night before. Hangovers can really suck.

 

Moving on:

  

David Robinson of the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey league took a puck in the teeth Oct. 18th while playing against the Kootenay Ice.

A dentist in Cranbrook yanked his teeth back into position, then Robinson rode the team bus home for seven hours with his mouthguard in his mouth to hold everything together.

 

Is that impressive or what?

 

Rick DiPietro is in some people’s bad books, including the New York media. The Islanders goalie signed a 15 year, 67.5 million dollar contract in 2006, and since then, keeps getting hurt. Now he’s on the shelf again and he’s only got 13 years left on his contract.

 

Apparently, Rick DiPietro is no David Robinson. Geez, the media is hard on their players in New York. I’m sure glad the Montreal media isn’t like that.

 

Important thing to know about Habs defenceman Andrei Markov. “Markov” translated into english means “stamp”, as in stamp on an envelope.

So you can now call him Andy Stamp if you feel so inclined.

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs are doing so well I’m kind of embarrassed I called them dog excretement a while back.

 

My old hometown, Orillia, is famous for many things. Gordon Lightfoot and Rick Ley come from Orillia. Stephen Leacock spent most of his life there and wrote a book about it, titled ‘Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.’

A Toronto TV show in the 1960’s, Perry’s Probe, did some research and decided Orillia had more drug users per capita than any other place in Canada.

 

But most of all, Orillia has the following, documented in this video. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am.

Cheer Up, Canucks’ Fans. Someday, Maybe. Probably Not, But Stranger Things Have Happened

Although it’s sad for Vancouver Canucks’ fans that their team has never won a Stanley Cup, they just have to remind themselves that someday, somehow, it could happen. Meanwhile, I’ll try to cheer them up by telling them about the time the Canucks’ great-grandfathers, the Vancouver Millionaires, did hoist the big old mug.

 

In 1915, the Millionaires, led by flashy forward Cyclone Taylor who had come out to Vancouver, liked it and stayed, clobbered the Portland Rosebuds 11-3 to clinch the Pacific Coast League title. Back east, the Ottawa Senators were doing the same thing to the Montreal Wanderers, beating them 4-1 to win the National Hockey Association championship.

 

So it was Ottawa against Vancouver, in Vancouver, for the first Stanley Cup series ever staged in Western Canada.

 

As the Senators made their way across the country by train, the Millionaires went to Portland to play a couple of games to keep them sharp for the big series. While there, captain Si Griffis twisted his ankle. And the guy the team hired for five bucks to sit in the dressing room and watch their valuables made off with all their money, Griffis’ gold watch, and goalie Hugh Lehman’s diamond stickpin. (I once had Hugh Lehman’s autograph on a small scrap of paper and sold it for 500 bucks on ebay.)

 

The big Stanley Cup series was a five-game series, and it was decided that each member of the winning team would receive $300. Big sell-outs were predicted at the old Denman Arena, which would eventually burn to the ground 21 years later. And in an unbelievable outpouring of generosity, each member of the Ottawa team was presented with a free streetcar pass by BC Electric.

 

The three big games were, somewhat surprising, less than sold out, but the Millionaires, all seven of them, clobbered those eastern lads in three straight games by a whopping 28-6 margin. And back then, players played the entire games without substitution.

 

The Millionaires collected their $300 and probably bought new fedoras, and maybe Easter bonnets for the little ladies. It’s not known if the Ottawa players ever got to use their free streetcar passes.

 

The Millionaires came close in other years but never saw the team’s name on the Stanley Cup again. However, in 1925 the Victoria Cougars won an east-west series with the Montreal Maroons to join the Millionaires as western Canada Stanley Cup champions. It’s possible that Millionaires’ fans did a slow, jealous burn about this.

 

Anyway, that was then, but this is now. The Canucks are now starting their 38th year and still no Cup in sight. The modern day Canucks may be millionaires, but they’re no Millionaires.

 

Not until they finally get the big job done.

Seeing George Chuvalo and Bobby Orr Do Their Thing, All In One Day

When I was young and not too bright, I hitchhiked across much of Canada three times. There was never any money for motels or hot meals in restaurants, only a few bucks for potato chips and cigarettes. These smelly, mosquito-bitten trips usually took about eight days or more each way.

 I was always a hitchhiker. At 14, while living with a family for a month in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec on a French-English exchange, my new buddy Normand Chaput and I stuck our thumbs out and toured a big part of the province, even camping out one night on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

 When Normand came to live with us for a month in Orillia that same summer, he and I hit the road again. And when we did, just a few hours later, only 30 miles up the road, we saw two different icons doing what they do best.

 We were let off at a gas station near Gravenhurst, where a small crowd had gathered around a makeshift boxing ring, and we had a look. We watched as a young George Chuvalo, then Canadian heavyweight boxing champ, sparred with a partner.

 There he was, the man who would twice take on Mohammed Ali, taking big-time shots to the face at a gas station parking lot.

 After the fight, Normand and I carried on to Bracebridge, to the big exhibition charity game between the Orillia Pepsi’s senior club, and the newly assembled Muskoka All-Stars. And because the Muskoka All-Stars were a bit of a stacked team with several pros on it, a young, slight, blond-haired kid was loaned to Orillia to help make the teams more equal.

 But it wasn’t equal at all. The blond-haired kid, Bobby Orr, having just completed his first season with the Oshawa Generals, was, at 16 years old, dominating the game so much, so thoroughly, he had both the fans and the other players on the ice laughing and shaking their heads in admiration. He owned the puck, skated through the older, more experienced opponents, skated back hard and broke up oncoming rushes, and controlled and dazzled. It was a major eye-opener for me, Normand, and a lot of people in the Bracebridge Arena.

 Hitchhiking with Normand was just the beginning. It seemed like wherever I went, I hitchhiked. A few years later I thumbed my way to Los Angeles after taking the train to Vancouver, and after that, at 19, began my three trips across Canada.

I don’t pick up hitchhikers now, it’s too risky. And it was probably almost as dangerous then, but I didn’t realize it. Maybe I dodged a bullet. And it was hard work, dirty, and uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

 But I got to see George Chuvalo and Bobby Orr in action, and that made the dirt and car fumes all worthwhile.

Todd Bertuzzi, Elmer Lach, And Some Guy From England

Now that pretty well every free agent has been signed by teams not named Montreal, including Todd Bertuzzi who is now a Calgary Flame, I guess the only players left for Bob Gainey are Teemu Selanne, Emile Bouchard, and Elmer Lach. Everyone else is gone.

 I suppose Bertuzzi, if he’s in the right frame of mind which remains to be seen, can be a real asset to a team because he’s huge and mean, with good hands. But when I heard he’d signed with Calgary, I admit I breathed a small sigh of relief that he didn’t end up a Hab.

 Bertuzzi, even before the Steve Moore incident, was known far and wide as a miserable type to the media and even to many of his own teammates. His best friend on the Canucks was Markus Naslund, and Naslund may have been his only friend. Yes, the grapevine extends to Powell River.

 I’m just not convinced he would’ve been a good Montreal Canadien. And not only on the ice. If he didn’t like interviews elsewhere, how would he have put up with the onslaught of reporters in Montreal?

 Not only that, a lot of women around Powell River thought he was a hot stud, which I never understood. I always thought of him as someone out of an Edgar Allan Poe novel.

 In other news:

 Philip Delves Broughton, writing for London’s Daily Mail newspaper, says British workers considering invitations to come to Canada to escape the UK rat race should think again.

Broughton says that while Britain’s national symbol is the lion and America’s is the eagle, Canada’s is the flat-tailed, slow-witted beaver.

And he also says that Britons shouldn’t think for one moment that watching Canadian hockey will distract them from our lousy climate.

“If you thought British sport was becoming crude and violent, try watching two teams of toothless brutes sliding around on ice and pausing every few minutes to beat the daylights out of each other,” he says.

We Just Have To Relax, Wait, See What Happens, And Think Bad Thoughts About The Vancouver Canucks

It’s 4:33 PM on Canada Day, and aside from the Habs signing Andrei Kostitsyn to a three year deal worth 3.25  season, (but we already knew he was going to re-sign), nothing has happened to put Montreal over the top.

 

Stay tuned.

 

But aside from that, I’d like to say this to the Vancouver Canucks, who have made an offer to Mats Sundin for two years, 20 million: You are in my bad books. I was slowly begin to tolerate you, but now, you are so much in my bad books that you can’t get any further in there. I hope you sign him, you miss the playoffs, and then he retires.

 

My posting on all of this is being delayed until I find out who’s going to Montreal.

 

 HELLO, FREE AGENTS GOING TO MONTREAL!  ANYBODY HOME?  WHERE ARE YOU?  

It’s Time You Saw A Little Piece Of Canadian Paradise

I first came to Powell River in 1970 when I was a young, restless vagabond, and I stayed for about a year. It was a crazy time, a great time, and I never forgot the place. I came back in 1995 after my first marriage fell apart in Calgary, and I’ve been here ever since.

Powell River is located on Canada’s west coast, 80 miles north of Vancouver, and right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a really creative place, full of writers, musicians, and poets, with old-time American Vietnam War draft dodgers who came here, planted roots, and contributed to Canadian society, plus a lot of loggers and fishermen who add to this magical west coast flavour.

Palm trees grow here, housing prices are reasonable, and deer come into my yard and eat the flowers. There’s 20,000 people, a paper mill that continues to downsize, and a little bit too much rain in the winter, although there’s hardly any snow, and the temperature rarely dips below freezing. (That’s why there’s palm trees!). Cruise ships cruise by, and whales aren’t far away. And in the evening as I sit on my deck, I can hear sea lions barking as I watch the ships and tug boats out on the water.

And if it sounds like I’m rich, think again. I simply paid 85 grand five years ago for my house with an ocean view.

If you’re coming from Vancouver, it takes two ferries to get here, one in West Vancouver, then an hour and a half drive by car, then another ferry, then a 30 minute drive after that. About five hours in total. The highway on the west coast stops north of Powell River, and that’s it, you can’t drive any further up the coast. But going the other way, you can drive all the way to Chile on this one road.

There’s no hustle bustle. You can get all your stuff done round town in about 20 minutes, and the pace is nice. Several big-time athletes have come from here, including several NHL’ers, a Super Bowl Champ, an Olympian, a world-class soccer pro, and a senior hockey team that has been been one of the best in the country for the last ten years and has won two Allan Cups. I’ll mention these people in the upcoming days.

Anyway, I’ve decided to take you on a little tour and I’ve enlisted my good friend Gaston to help. This’ll be done over a few days, so I hope you enjoy, and maybe I’ll see you out here someday.

 

Gaston sits at the ferry terminal in downtown Powell River. This particular ferry brings folks to and from Vancouver Island.

 

 

This is how you would see Powell River from the ferry. Gaston loves being in pictures and I don’t mind. He’s helping me.